United Kingdom

Queen’s Speech sets out rental reforms

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The Queen’s Speech has outlined the government’s plans for the long-awaited Renters’ Reform Bill, and it includes a few surprises.

As expected, ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions are getting axed. The government has pledged to strengthen landlords’ “legitimate grounds for taking back their property” to compensate, most likely by making the Section 8 eviction process easier.

Dedicated housing courts, high up on industry bodies’ wish lists, weren’t mentioned. However, ministers plan to set up a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to settle disputes between tenants and landlords – with the power to require landlords to make changes when necessary. 

The Renter’s Reform Bill will also extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector. It is currently used as a minimum standard of quality for social housing. The government plans to stop paying housing benefit to landlords of low-quality homes, saving an estimated £3 billion per year – although this will require some clarification from politicians as most housing benefit payments go to tenants.

A couple of previously predicted policies didn’t make it into the Queen’s Speech. The idea of lifetime deposits, intended to make it easier for tenants to move from property to property, has been shelved for the time being. The plan for a national landlord register in England also seems to have been dropped, although the proposed landlord property portal may effectively introduce one by the back door.

The next step towards implementing the Renters’ Reform Bill is for the government to publish a White Paper setting out their reforms in more detail, followed by consultations in Parliament and discussions with the industry. 

Agents, landlords and tenants will now have to wait to see if the government follows through. The 2019 Queen’s Speech also set out proposals for private rented sector reforms, but the promised White Paper has been repeatedly delayed.

Other housing policy headlines

Michael Gove appears to ditch Tory pledge to build 300,000 homes – The Mirror

Permission for house extensions could be voted on by neighbours – Sky News

Jenrick says ministers “lack political will” to fix housing crisis – Building Design

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